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November 15, 2011 4:35 pm

Philanthropist Evelyn Lauder Dead at 75

avatar by Maxine Dovere

Leonard and Evelyn Lauder, March 2011. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Evelyn Hausner Lauder lived her life completely, with great style, gathering roses until her end of days – an end that came far too soon for all who loved and admired this icon of business and philanthropy. Creator, with Alexandra Perry, of the “pink ribbon” campaign symbolizing the fight against breast cancer, she was the founder of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (1993), and the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center in New York, opened at Sloan Kettering Hospital in 2009.

Evelyn Lauder was born in Vienna. She was two in 1938 when her family escaped Hitler’s advance. The family went first to England, arriving in New York in 1940. She met her future husband on a “blind date;” on their second date, she was asked by future mother-in-law Estee Lauder to help plan his birthday party.” Once a New York City school teacher, Evelyn Lauder began working in the family business in 1959 and was integral to the company’s growth and development as Senior Corporate Vice President.

William, her older son, spoke through tears, recalling his mother’s generosity and her ability and willingness to share perhaps the most precious gift, time. He spoke of her determination, of Peaches, her Red Jeep, her passion for photography, and the seventy presents the family had given her in celebration of her 75th birthday August 12.

A grandson spoke of her “boundless, unconditional love,” her “legacy” pancakes and strong drive for Jewish values. She was recalled as a “woman of incredible faith” who “conquered life with a golden touch.” Noting that this week’s parshah tells the story of the burial of Sarah, daughter-in-law Laura spoke of the loss of Evelyn, the Lauder family matriarch, saying “she who saved lives would not allow others to even know her condition.” Son Gary honored his mother’s memory with a call to “seek innovation in the fight against all cancers.” He called upon all to “take risks” in the fight to conquer cancer.

The two brothers stood beside their father, Leonard, as he bid farewell to his wife of 52 years. His admiration and love for his late wife was evident. With great warmth, he told stories of their early life – their courtship, the building years of the Estee Lauder Company and the multiple roles Evelyn handled as she helped the business grow. “Stylish,” “outrageous,” “the greatest wife and mother, a terrific grandmother,” “a remarkable woman,” he said. Her dream was “to make the world a safer place for women and eliminate breast cancer. ” “There is a void that is impossible to fill…her work will stay with all of us.” As tears came, he cried “Evelyn, you’ll always be my shining star.”

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